stock photo by John Donges
New Mexico officials confirm 44 horses have tested positive for the equine herpes virus (EHV-1), almost two weeks after the first case was reported. Five horses have been euthanized after showing progressive neurologic signs.
The affected horses are stabled in 19 different barns within Sunland Park racetrack and at an adjacent training facility. The New Mexico Livestock Board states all of the horses were in the original quarantine perimeter. No movement of horses is allowed as the quarantine is on-going.
Racetrack officials are employing a compliance officer to ensure horse owners are taking and accurately reporting their horses’ temperatures. Fever is a major indicator of the virus.
“EHV-1 is not a death sentence for a horse,” Dr. Tim Hanosh, director of NMDA’s Veterinary Diagnostic Services lab said. “Most horses will get over the fever. Some will develop minor neurological signs they can recover from. And, unfortunately, a few will develop severe neurological problems they can’t recover from.”
EHV-1 can be spread through various methods. Direct, horse-to-horse contact is a common route of transmission, but indirect transmission is also possible. This occurs when infectious materials are carried between infected and non-infected horses by people or inanimate objects such as buckets, tack, or trailers. Aerosol transmission can also occur when infectious droplets are inhaled. The source of infectious droplets is most often respiratory secretions.